A Consortial Approach to Providing Online Electronic Library Resources

Author Information
John Sener
The Sloan Consortium
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Maryland Digital Library
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Maryland Digital Library (MDL) helps Maryland higher education institutions by providing access to essential library services and information.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

How this practice supports access:
Maryland Digital Library (MDL) enables faculty, staff, and students at participating Maryland public and independent two and four year colleges and universities to access 400 electronic books and 2,945 electronic journals through a web-based gateway called MdUSA (Maryland University and College Statewide Access to Electronic Databases). MDL also provides access to ten major electronic resources, including Academic Search Elite, Access Science, Health Source Plus, and NetLibrary among others. These databases were selected to support a general, multidisciplinary undergraduate curriculum.

MDL provides access to essential information and library services for colleges and universities engaged in online education, employers whose employees seek additional education, and students pursuing academic programs via online learning from work or at home.

MDL has been particularly useful in helping community colleges bridge the 'digital divide' by lowering the cost of providing online library services.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

51 libraries in Maryland higher education institutions participate in MDL. In its first two years of operation (July 2000- June 2002), MDL users conducted over 4.1 million searches and retrieved 3.5 million full-text documents.

In a survey (spring/summer 2002) of student services administrators at Maryland higher education instiutions, respondents (n = 20) rated their provision of online library services more highly than any other online student service. In a companion survey (fall 2002), students (n = 622) also rated online library services provision very highly. While MDL is just one element of online library services provision, these results suggest that MDL may contribute significantly to effective provision of online library services in Maryland. A followup survey of student services administrators to explore this question is under consideration.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

In December 1999, an initial funding of $400,000 was approved by the Maryland IT Board to put MDL into operation. When the funding was received in early June 2000, it was used in combination with $500,000 from the state budget to begin implementation.

Each participating library now pays for its share of the subscription costs. MDL is able to negotiate lower prices by subscribing to these resources as a consortium. There is no cost to faculty or students to use MDL services.

Other Comments: 

Further developments of MDL, for instance providing better user access to material from any of the library collections of MDL participants via a web based catalog spanning the collections of academic libraries across the state and access to highly quality web based content and information resources, have been stalled due to funding constraints.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Betty Day, MDL, 301-405-9072
Email this contact: